WHL Roundup: Hughes holds off Americans as T-Birds move closer to playoff spot

in regular season



March 7, 2018

by Robert Murray

Portland Winterhawks (4) at Prince George Cougars (3) 
Portland (41-20-1-4) // Prince George (23-35-4-4)

It was productive return to Prince George for Dennis Cholowski (Detroit Red Wings) and Portland Winterhawks as each of them picked up a pair of points in a 4-3 win over the Prince George Cougars Tuesday evening.

Goals from Joachim Blichfeld and Reece Newkirk featured in the first period, but the Cougars pulled themselves back into the game with second period goals from Josh Maser and Ethan Browne’s first career WHL goal.

The Winterhawks overpowered the Cougars in the third though, with Skyler McKenzie (Winnipeg Jets) and Ty Kolle scoring for the Winterhawks while former Winterhawk Ilijah Colina had the lone response for the Cougars.

Cole Kheler (Los Angeles Kings) stopped 20 of 23 shots for the victory, his 27th of the season. Taylor Gauthier held his own against one of the top teams in the Western Conference, stopping 39 of 43 shots for the loss.

Portland is now within six points of the Silvertips for first in the U.S. Division and Western Conference following the win. They also have a game in-hand.

The Cougars and Winterhawks will conclude their season series Wednesday night at the CN Centre in Prince George, B.C.


Tri-City Americans (3) at Seattle Thunderbirds (4) 
Tri-City (32-24-8-1) // Seattle (31-25-8-2)

The race for the wild card intensified Tuesday, playing out in Kent, Wash. as the Seattle Thunderbirds topped the Tri-City Americans by a 4-3 final in regulation.

Austin Strand (Los Angeles Kings) scored in the first period to give the T-Birds the first lead of the game, followed by goals from Zack Andrusiak and Nolan Volcan in the second to build up a three-goal advantage for the home side.

It wasn’t until the third period, after Matthew Wedman’s 4-0 goal, that the Americans responded.

Goals from Morgan Geekie (Carolina Hurricanes), captain Michael Rasmussen (Detroit Red Wings), and Sasha Mutala came in a 10:06 span to make the final few minutes interesting, though the Americans would never pull even.

Dylan Coghlan (Vegas Golden Knights) and Jordan Topping each had a pair of assists for the Americans in the third.

Liam Hughes held the Americans at bay, stopping 40 of 43 shots while Patrick Dea stopped 29 of 33 shots to take the loss.

The result continued to complicate the wild card picture in the Western Conference, with the Americans and T-Birds now separated by a single point.

The two clubs will close out their regular season series against each other on the final day of the regular season in Kennewick, Wash.




Spokane Chiefs (3) at Victoria Royals (7) 
Spokane (38-22-3-2) // Victoria (37-24-4-2)

The Victoria Royals had their offence to thank for their 37th victory of the regular season Tuesday as they took over the game in a 7-3 win against the Spokane Chiefs.

Tanner Kaspick (St. Louis Blues) had a goal and three points while the quartet of Matthew Phillips (Calgary Flames), Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks), Jeff de Wit, and Dante Hannoun each added a goal and an assist in the offensive showing.

Leading 2-0 after 20 minutes, the Royals gave up a goal to Hudson Elynuik (Carolina Hurricanes), but came right back with Gregor’s 28th of the season in the second. Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Los Angeles Kings) and Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) brought the Chiefs into a 3-3 tie with the Royals by the early portion of the third, but promptly gave up four unanswered goals to the Royals to close out the game.

Scott Walford (Montreal Canadiens) and Braydon Buziak scored the other goals for the Royals. Anderson-Dolan and Yamamoto each had a goal and an assist for the Chiefs.

The win was a momentous one for Griffen Outhouse, who stopped 28 of 31 shots to become the winningest goaltender in Royals’ franchise history. Dawson Weatherill stopped 16 of 22 shots in the loss.

With the loss, the Chiefs failed to keep pace with the Winterhawks while still retaining a healthy lead over the two wild card teams from the U.S. Division.


Lethbridge Hurricanes (0) at Brandon Wheat Kings (6)
Lethbridge (32-27-6-0) // Brandon (35-26-3-2)

The Brandon Wheat Kings were a team on a mission Tuesday night against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Ty Lewis (Colorado Avalanche) had a pair of goals and four points, Stelio Mattheos (Carolina Hurricanes) also had a pair of goals, finishing with three points as both players joined the 40-goal club and Logan Thompson stopped all 32 shots sent his way for the fourth shutout of his Western Hockey League career.

Goals from Mattheos, Luka Burzan, and Lewis featured in the first period. Mattheos and Lewis both added their second goals of the night in the second and Chase Hartje rounded out the scoring in the third with his third of the season.

The trio of Rylan Bettens, Cole Reinhardt, and Linden McCorrister each recorded a pair of assists in the contest.

While the Wheat Kings’ offence did more than their fair share Tuesday, Thompson was just as good, stopping 14 shots in the first, 11 in the second and seven in the third.

Jordy Bellerive (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Dylan Cozens each had seven shots to lead the Hurricanes. Logan Flodell stopped six of nine shots in the loss while Reece Klassen stopped 21 of 24 shots in relief.

The regular season series between the two clubs came to a close Tuesday with the Wheat Kings winning three of the four matchups this season.

The win kept the Wheat Kings three points away from the Regina Pats for third in the East Division. For the Hurricanes, they remained six points back of the Medicine Hat Tigers for first in the Central Division.



Edmonton Oil Kings (5) at Saskatoon Blades (6)
Edmonton (19-39-6-2) // Saskatoon (32-31-2-1)

Tuesday home game against the Edmonton Oil Kings wasn’t mathematically a must-win for the Saskatoon Blades, but going down the wire, a win seemed almost essential to give them a boost in the right direction.

Sixty minutes later, goals from six different skaters and 26 saves from Nolan Maier provided the Blades with two important points in the East Division race after a 6-5 win over the Oil Kings.

Dawson Davidson had a goal and four points, Max Gerlach added a goal and three points while both Braylon Shmyr and Michael Farren had a goal and an assist. Kirby Dach chipped in with three assists for the Blades.

The Blades led 2-0 after 20 and increased their lead to three after an early goal in the second. The Oil Kings had plenty of fight in themselves though, with Kobe Mohr, Carter Souch, and Brett Kemp finding the back of the net in a 3:37 span to tie up the game.

True to their strong performance though, the Blades would respond with goals from Gerlach and Josh Paterson to retain a two-goal lead heading to the third. Conner McDonald would cut things to as close as a single goal, but Braylon Shmyr closed out the Blades’ scoring to put the game out of reach, even after a late goal from captain Colton Kehler.

Boston Bilous stopped 30 of 36 shots in the loss. Tomas Soutal added a pair of assists in the defeat.

The win gave the Blades a sweep of the four-game season series, winning three of those matches by a single goal. Snapping a four-game slide, the Blades are now just two points back of the Prince Albert Raiders for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.


Regina Pats (6) at Medicine Hat Tigers (3)
Regina (36-25-5-1) // Medicine Hat (34-25-8-0)

The Regina Pats won their third straight game Tuesday, doubling up the Medicine Hat Tigers by a 6-3 score at the Canalta Centre.

Koby Morrisseau scored a pair of goals and four separate Pats had a goal and an assist in the victory while Max Paddock stopped 24 of 27 shots.

Goals from Jesse Gabrielle (Boston Bruins) and Morrisseau’s first of the game came at opposite ends of the period, with the Tigers striking twice in between thanks to Tyler Preziuso and Henry Rybinski.

After Emil Oksanen and Mark Rassell traded goals in the second, the Pats closed out the third with goals from Libor Hajek (New York Rangers), Morrisseau’s second of the contest and the 22nd of the season from Josh Mahura (Anaheim Ducks).

Gabrielle, Mahura, Hajek, and Oksanen had the two-point games for the Pats. Michael Bullion stopped 23 of 29 shots in the loss.

Defenceman David Quenneville (New York Islanders) picked up an assist to continue leading all WHL defencemen with 74 points.

The win helped to push the Pats within two points of clinching a playoff spot. The loss didn’t hurt the Tigers in the Central Division race, keeping them six points ahead of the Hurricanes following their loss in Brandon.